Reproduction is influenced by energy balance, but the physiological pathways mediating their relationship have not been fully elucidated. As the central regulators of fertility, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons integrate numerous physiological signals, including metabolic cues. Circulating glucose levels regulate GnRH release and might in part mediate the effects of negative energy balance on fertility. Existing evidence suggests that neural pathways originating in the hindbrain, as well as in the hypothalamic feeding nuclei, transmit information concerning glucose availability to GnRH neurons. Here we review recent evidence suggesting that GnRH neurons might directly sense changes in glucose availability by a mechanism involving AMP-activated protein kinase. These findings expand our understanding of how metabolic signaling in the brain regulates reproduction.
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